Race organisers include the Muur van Geraardsbergen for the 2017 Tour of Flanders after a five-year absence and move the start from Bruges to Antwerp for the next five years
The 2017 Tour of Flanders will start in Antwerp and take in the cobbled Muur van Geraardsbergen for the first time since 2011, organisers have confirmed.
The iconic climb will feature with 100km remaining in the race, with the final 75km unchanged from this year’s edition. Between 1988 and 2011 the Muur was the penultimate climb on the route, but with the race finishing in Oudenaarde from 2012 it was not possible to include the climb for the past five editions.
Organisers confirmed that Antwerp will host the start for the next five years, taking over from Bruges, which has hosted the race since 1998.
“Everyone on the Flanders Classics team worked hard over the past few years for a return of the Muur to the route,” race director Wim Van Herreweghe said. “This updated route is a complete package; it brings the very best of more than a century of the Tour of Flanders together in a single monumental race.
“In choosing Antwerp, we brought a new twist to the Ronde. The Muur, which is beloved by racers and audience alike, has come back from the past, and the finale so tremendously applauded in past years will remain securely intact.”
The finish in Oudenaarde and the preceding 75km will remain the same, with Van Herreweghe keen to preserve what has turned into a popular finale. Riders will tackle the Oude Kwaremont for a second time before ascents of the Paterberg, Koppenberg, Steenbeekdries, Taaienberg and Kruisberg and then it’s back to the Kwaremont for the final time and the last ascent of the Paterberg.
It was on the Paterberg where Peter Sagan made his decisive attack to win the 2016 edition of the race. The Tinkoff rider soloed his way to the finish line on Minderbroederstraat in Oudenaarde, which will host the finish once more in 2017.